Latest Movie News Headlines

Review: Total Recall

Aug. 2, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: In the future, where a battle-scarred Earth has been divided into two hemispheres; the wealthy Western Euromerica, and the more downtrodden Eastern Colony, Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a humble factory worker, living with his beautiful wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) in the Colony. He’s plagued by dreams which feature him fighting alongside a beautiful warrior named Melina (Jessica Biel). Upon visiting ReKall, to have a dream vacation implanted, Quaid discovers that he’s actually a secret agent named Hauser, whose memory was erased by the president of Euromerica- Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston). Now- with Lori, herself an agent in Cohaagen’s employ, trying to kill him, Quaid/Hauser must go on the run, and discover the secret his suppressed memories hold before it’s too late.

REVIEW: That plot sound kinda familiar? Well yeah- of course it does, being that this is a remake of the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger/ Paul Verhoven actioner TOTAL RECALL. Despite the fact that Arnie’s flick holds up pretty damn well, the powers that be decided to remake it- hence the brand-new, $200 million plus TOTAL RECALL. Directed by Len Wiseman, who made a name for himself on the first two UNDERWORLD films (not perfect films- but fun), and LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, this TOTAL RECALL is pretty damn similar to the old TOTAL RECALL, with seemingly only minor adjustments having been made to the premise.


The most significant change is that, in Wiseman’s redux, there’s no more Mars. All of the action takes place on Earth, and if there’s one part of the film that could truly be called successful, it’s Wiseman’s dystopian view of the future. While probably owing more to BLADE RUNNER than Verhoven’s film, the Earth of the future, as presented here is visually striking- with workers shuttling every day between the two hemispheres with a supertube that features a gravity change mid-journey. I really liked the visiual sense Wiseman shows early on, with the poorer Eastern Colony being a surprisingly effective take on a world gone mad.

However, that’s just about the only part of TOTAL RECALL that works, I’m sorry to say. The big problem is that, despite all the eye-candy (and there’s loads), Wiseman’s film has virtually no energy, as opposed to the adrenaline rush of the original film. There’s tons of action, but it’s all very cartoony, or X-Box ish, and worse- there’s absolutely no tension at all. The action scenes aren’t aided by a shockingly generic score by the usually excellent Harry Gregson-Williams, which- suffice to say, doesn’t hold a candle to Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible soundtrack for the original. The much-touted hover car chase is interesting visually, particularly in the cool gravity-change midway through - but it’s all very familiar, being reminiscent of a similar, better chase in Luc Besson’s THE FIFTH ELEMENT.


And therein lies the real problem with TOTAL RECALL- it feels recycled. I know, I know- it’s a remake, but the original TOTAL RECALL is not the only film this steals (or rather “borrows” )from, with everyone involved in this obviously having studied MINORITY REPORT and THE BOURNE IDENTITY before getting this started. Meanwhile, fans of the original will no doubt be irked by the fact that, while everyone involved has gone on record saying they were trying to make this different from Arnie’s film, no opportunity to inject one of the catch-phrases or trademarks from the original is passed up. Even the three-breasted lady turns up, which is really strange as there are no mutants in this film.

It’s too bad that TOTAL RECALL goes this route, as there truly was potential for a solid film here. I’ve always thought Colin Farrell was the real deal, and it’s nice to see him headlining a big movie again, and while he gives it a good try (dude may not be Arnie, but he’s JACKED)- his Quaid is a really bland hero. Say what you will about Ah-nuld’s acting, but he infused his Quaid with a real sense of compassion and heroism that’s missing here. Of course, this TOTAL RECALL happens to feature two of the hottest women in Hollywood, and they’re probably the most successful thing about this film other than the production design. Jessica Biel brings a certain sense of vulnerability to a part that could have come-off as “tough-chick generic”, and she suits these big action heavy blockbusters. As Quaid’s fake wife, Lori, Beckinsale has the time of her life combining Sharon Stone’s old part with Michael Ironside’s henchman. She hasn’t played many baddies, but she’s terrific as the crazed Lori- and, in a nice touch, uses her English accent as the bad Lori, while affecting an American one as the nice Lori.


As for the rest of the cast, Bill Nighy has one quick scene as this movie’s variation on Kuato- Matthias, while Bryan Cranston is off-screen for too much of the film to make a really memorable Cohaagen, although he’s less psychotic, and more simply power-hungry than Ronny Cox was in the original. As such, he underplays the part a bit, which suits Cranston- and its too bad he didn’t get more time to make an impression.

It’s too bad this 2012 take on TOTAL RECALL is so stiff. While I still think the 1990 original holds up well enough that it didn’t need a remake, I went into this with an open-mind, as I like pretty much everyone involved. Despite a good cast, and some top-notch (refreshingly non 3D) visuals, this movie just never comes to life, and left me feeling bored and restless.

Source: JoBlo.com

Related Articles

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

10:37PM on 08/18/2012

I Agree 100% Bumbray

I'm not sure whether to give this a green "hip" because I agree with your review or a red "bad idea" because I hated the film, but unlike a lot of the schmoes below, I agree that this film is soulless dreck that wastes its bad guys, wastes its lead, squanders its gags and while the visuals are impressive and you can see where the money went in this production, the action is so generic and chaotic that it was hard to give a damn. Len Wiseman's continued use of guns without bullets where nobody
I'm not sure whether to give this a green "hip" because I agree with your review or a red "bad idea" because I hated the film, but unlike a lot of the schmoes below, I agree that this film is soulless dreck that wastes its bad guys, wastes its lead, squanders its gags and while the visuals are impressive and you can see where the money went in this production, the action is so generic and chaotic that it was hard to give a damn. Len Wiseman's continued use of guns without bullets where nobody sprouts blood when shot didn't help the tension at all. John Cho is wasted, too. The only actors I enjoyed were Bokeem Woodbine, who clearly was having a blast being featured in a major Hollywood movie again and the two female leads, who probably kicked more ass and had more subtlety to their characters than anybody else in the film. They wasted a golden opportunity to update the grimy, gross, poor taste nature of Verhoeven's original (couldn't we at least have had some damn mutants and not the random, pointless blink and you'll miss them tri-titties?) and instead delivered an indistinguishable, blustering expensive dud of a movie.
Your Reply:



9:21PM on 08/06/2012

And your bias shines again...

An obviously flawed film gets a perfect score and and obviously no brainer fun action movie gets the Oscar critique? For shame Mr Bumbray, you were better than this, no, you are better than this. Total Recall deserves better. The action was great, Beckinsale was a spectacular villain, and the fight choreography was seamless. The future concept was great, much better than an oxygen processing plant on mars left by aliens. You fail to mention the obvious flaws in a movie you gave a perfect score,
An obviously flawed film gets a perfect score and and obviously no brainer fun action movie gets the Oscar critique? For shame Mr Bumbray, you were better than this, no, you are better than this. Total Recall deserves better. The action was great, Beckinsale was a spectacular villain, and the fight choreography was seamless. The future concept was great, much better than an oxygen processing plant on mars left by aliens. You fail to mention the obvious flaws in a movie you gave a perfect score, but found it worthy to mention that in a world without mutants a 3 breasted woman exists, um maybe genetic manipulation? I dont knoe, in a world where your hand is a phone and tattoos glow and pulsate, and mind manipulation is legal a 3 breasted woman cannot exist?7/10 in my book.
Your Reply:



2:40PM on 08/05/2012

spoilers

I think you were a little too critical about a movie that wasn't demanding much criticism. This is a fun, action-packed film. It's not trying to be anything more than that...i think the quality action scenes that were abundant give this a 7/10 alone. I thought there were some cool original ideas, like the hand phone and the way some of the tech looked, like the collar and the robots looked well too. I thought the Fall was neat, too. 5/10 is a little harsh.

btw: i saw this in an early cut,
I think you were a little too critical about a movie that wasn't demanding much criticism. This is a fun, action-packed film. It's not trying to be anything more than that...i think the quality action scenes that were abundant give this a 7/10 alone. I thought there were some cool original ideas, like the hand phone and the way some of the tech looked, like the collar and the robots looked well too. I thought the Fall was neat, too. 5/10 is a little harsh.

btw: i saw this in an early cut, and ethan hawke has been completely edited out of the final cut. Hawke was Hauser. The scenes where colin is watching pre recorded video was originally hawke in the video, not colin. there were lines re: his face change and stuff that were edited out. my speculation is that they just wanted colin to maximize the quaid character, because the flim was already lacking in the character development department. also, when i saw ethan hawke appear in the movie, i was more interested in his character, hauser, than the then-now quaid by colin farrel. ethan looked really badass, his voice and look reminded me of what would be a good casting for solid snake in a live action film. his face looked like solid on a codec!!
Your Reply:



+6
7:26PM on 08/04/2012
I am pretty positive if Christopher Nolan's name would had been listen as director you would have given this film 13 out if ten.
I am pretty positive if Christopher Nolan's name would had been listen as director you would have given this film 13 out if ten.
Your Reply:



+1
11:22AM on 08/04/2012

are you insane?

Your review is way off base, this was a fun film full of energy and excitement. I love the original and dug the remake. Lighten up
Your review is way off base, this was a fun film full of energy and excitement. I love the original and dug the remake. Lighten up
Your Reply:



+1
11:20AM on 08/04/2012

are you insane?

Your review is way off base, this was a fun film full of energy and excitement. I love the original and dug the remake. Lighten up
Your review is way off base, this was a fun film full of energy and excitement. I love the original and dug the remake. Lighten up
Your Reply:



-3
6:42PM on 08/03/2012
I think you are being far too nice...it's at the very least a 3.
I think you are being far too nice...it's at the very least a 3.
Your Reply:



1:02PM on 08/03/2012

Score?

You prefered the all too familiar and repetive score from TDKR and disliked this perfectly new and energic electro-futuristic score for Total Recall? I disagree with you on that one Chris. Sorry!
You prefered the all too familiar and repetive score from TDKR and disliked this perfectly new and energic electro-futuristic score for Total Recall? I disagree with you on that one Chris. Sorry!
Your Reply:



1:19PM on 08/03/2012
To each his own my friend.
To each his own my friend.
2:47AM on 08/04/2012
New? I'm guessing you haven't heard a Harry Gregson-Williams score before. Or any score with electronic elements, which seems to be half of action scores these days.
New? I'm guessing you haven't heard a Harry Gregson-Williams score before. Or any score with electronic elements, which seems to be half of action scores these days.
6:57AM on 08/03/2012
Next up for Len Wiseman will be The Terminator, it won't be a remake, oh no, it will be a new take on James Cameron's original dream and here's the catch, it will be set in present day and not the 80s.
Also on the slate for Len is his re-imaging of True Lies*, only this time the wife (Kate Beckinsale natch) is the spy. Oh the hilarity.

(sad thing is those pitches would probably work nowadays)

*yes I know True Lies was a remake
Next up for Len Wiseman will be The Terminator, it won't be a remake, oh no, it will be a new take on James Cameron's original dream and here's the catch, it will be set in present day and not the 80s.
Also on the slate for Len is his re-imaging of True Lies*, only this time the wife (Kate Beckinsale natch) is the spy. Oh the hilarity.

(sad thing is those pitches would probably work nowadays)

*yes I know True Lies was a remake
Your Reply:



-2
11:53PM on 08/02/2012
I'm going to have to agree with you on a 5/10, Chris. This was a monotonous film that unfortunately allowed the special effects to control the story. Here's my full review:

[link]
I'm going to have to agree with you on a 5/10, Chris. This was a monotonous film that unfortunately allowed the special effects to control the story. Here's my full review:

[link]
Your Reply:



6:59PM on 08/02/2012

LoL

I knew this would suck way back when they announced Colin Farrell as the lead. I was even willing to give it a shot until that happened.
I knew this would suck way back when they announced Colin Farrell as the lead. I was even willing to give it a shot until that happened.
Your Reply:



+1
6:11PM on 08/02/2012
Guess it's a good thing I'm seeing this film tonight at a pre-screening then. Whether I enjoy it or not, I won't be losing any money. No mention of Cranston in the review either, and he's one of my main reasons for going to see it. Sounds like he isn't even in the film much. What I get from this and many other reviews is that the film doesn't necessarily suck, but rather it's just boring. As someone who is easily amused, I am hoping to enjoy this more than others have.
Guess it's a good thing I'm seeing this film tonight at a pre-screening then. Whether I enjoy it or not, I won't be losing any money. No mention of Cranston in the review either, and he's one of my main reasons for going to see it. Sounds like he isn't even in the film much. What I get from this and many other reviews is that the film doesn't necessarily suck, but rather it's just boring. As someone who is easily amused, I am hoping to enjoy this more than others have.
Your Reply:



1:17PM on 08/03/2012
I think you missed the second last paragraph- where I go in to Cranston's role.
I think you missed the second last paragraph- where I go in to Cranston's role.
5:36PM on 08/02/2012
Piece of crap remake. I'm glad it sucks. And mark my words, despite the cast, the Robocop remake is going to suffer the same fate. Fuck remakes.
Piece of crap remake. I'm glad it sucks. And mark my words, despite the cast, the Robocop remake is going to suffer the same fate. Fuck remakes.
Your Reply:



+15
3:21PM on 08/02/2012
Sigh I'm probably gonna get alot of shit & thumbs down for saying this, but I cannot stand reviews that compare movies to one another, it's lazy writing. You did the same thing with The Amazing Spider-Man. It's ok to not enjoy the movie but at least give us the benefit of just reviewing the current movie instead of comparisons. Yes we get it's a remake, but to me it seems to be the only reason why you did not like the movie.

FYI though I am not a big fan on remakes anyways but always
Sigh I'm probably gonna get alot of shit & thumbs down for saying this, but I cannot stand reviews that compare movies to one another, it's lazy writing. You did the same thing with The Amazing Spider-Man. It's ok to not enjoy the movie but at least give us the benefit of just reviewing the current movie instead of comparisons. Yes we get it's a remake, but to me it seems to be the only reason why you did not like the movie.

FYI though I am not a big fan on remakes anyways but always willing to give them a chance. This one seems to be more serious in tone. SO ya I am gonna be checking it out.
Your Reply:



4:21AM on 08/03/2012
Well said! Whether we like remakes or not we deserve a review of the movie and then finally a small comparison (not essential). In some cases it's impossible to have same great reaction and it's silly to expect all the same motions in a remake just to give the audience a chuckle.
Well said! Whether we like remakes or not we deserve a review of the movie and then finally a small comparison (not essential). In some cases it's impossible to have same great reaction and it's silly to expect all the same motions in a remake just to give the audience a chuckle.
1:16PM on 08/03/2012
I don't get why you write this every time I review a remake/reboot. Of course I have to compare it to the film it's remaking. Let's say the rip off a great scene from the original- what am I supposed to say? Wow- what an original piece of filmmaking- when it's a copy? And how is that "lazy writing"? Should I only write positive reviews? What kind of credibility would I have then? Fact is- this is recycled entertainment.
I don't get why you write this every time I review a remake/reboot. Of course I have to compare it to the film it's remaking. Let's say the rip off a great scene from the original- what am I supposed to say? Wow- what an original piece of filmmaking- when it's a copy? And how is that "lazy writing"? Should I only write positive reviews? What kind of credibility would I have then? Fact is- this is recycled entertainment.
+1
1:44PM on 08/02/2012

awww man

i had high hopes for this. knowing what i know of the original and the trailers i thought it would be Inception + Minority Report. that's probably how this remake was pitched. too bad 1 + 1 only equals 2 this time instead of 3.
i had high hopes for this. knowing what i know of the original and the trailers i thought it would be Inception + Minority Report. that's probably how this remake was pitched. too bad 1 + 1 only equals 2 this time instead of 3.
Your Reply:



1:01PM on 08/02/2012
I don't want this to be the movie that knocks TDKR from the #1 spot.
I don't want this to be the movie that knocks TDKR from the #1 spot.
Your Reply:



7:48AM on 08/04/2012
why? are you getting a cut of the box office?

why? are you getting a cut of the box office?

12:09PM on 08/02/2012
That's a bit disappointing. I was really looking forward to this film. I'm probably going to watch it anyway, but I'm going in with caution.
That's a bit disappointing. I was really looking forward to this film. I'm probably going to watch it anyway, but I'm going in with caution.
Your Reply:



11:22AM on 08/04/2012
Go see it, his review is shit. Good film
Go see it, his review is shit. Good film
11:56AM on 08/02/2012
"It's too bad this 2012 take on TOTAL RECALL is so stiff." No, it's too bad there was a 2012 take on Total Recall in the first place. A kid-friendly one, at that!

I'm guessin a 27% at RT with a $45 mil opening wknd, tops. And can't say I didn't see horrible reviews coming for this turd in the first place.
"It's too bad this 2012 take on TOTAL RECALL is so stiff." No, it's too bad there was a 2012 take on Total Recall in the first place. A kid-friendly one, at that!

I'm guessin a 27% at RT with a $45 mil opening wknd, tops. And can't say I didn't see horrible reviews coming for this turd in the first place.
Your Reply:



11:20AM on 08/02/2012

A shame

Ever since I saw the trailer I thought this would not amount to much - if they had actually based this on the book (like they said they would!) and given us a real conceptual Sci-Fi film rather than a remake - shot for shot it looked like in the trailer - of Verhoven's film, they could have made something really interesting.

But I suppose action movies with hot girls make more money than intelligent sci-fi movies. Bah. Going to watch Moon again to ease my sorrows...
Ever since I saw the trailer I thought this would not amount to much - if they had actually based this on the book (like they said they would!) and given us a real conceptual Sci-Fi film rather than a remake - shot for shot it looked like in the trailer - of Verhoven's film, they could have made something really interesting.

But I suppose action movies with hot girls make more money than intelligent sci-fi movies. Bah. Going to watch Moon again to ease my sorrows...
Your Reply:



11:18AM on 08/02/2012
Sorry to read the reviewer didn't like the film. I'm still going to go see it. I won't have too many opportunities to see Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel in the same film. I really liked the original Total Recall but now it seems a bit campy. I'll give this one a shot. It is guaranteed NOT to be the worst movie I have ever seen. But it is in my wheelhouse.
Sorry to read the reviewer didn't like the film. I'm still going to go see it. I won't have too many opportunities to see Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel in the same film. I really liked the original Total Recall but now it seems a bit campy. I'll give this one a shot. It is guaranteed NOT to be the worst movie I have ever seen. But it is in my wheelhouse.
Your Reply:



+8
11:17AM on 08/02/2012

REMAKE

Hey I've seen this before - Double posts rule!
Hey I've seen this before - Double posts rule!
Your Reply:



+3
11:15AM on 08/02/2012

REMAKE

I read the story – just yesterday – he doesn’t go to Mars because he gives up to the agents! The Arnie movie continues from that point, but he doesn’t give up, so the natural course of action is to go to Mars to get answers. This movie is a complete REMAKE of the old one. The original story is very good, but very short (18 pages), this movie is clearly a remake. His wife attacking him, that guy trying to convince him he is still at Rekal, etc. They remade this for NO REASON except for money.
I read the story – just yesterday – he doesn’t go to Mars because he gives up to the agents! The Arnie movie continues from that point, but he doesn’t give up, so the natural course of action is to go to Mars to get answers. This movie is a complete REMAKE of the old one. The original story is very good, but very short (18 pages), this movie is clearly a remake. His wife attacking him, that guy trying to convince him he is still at Rekal, etc. They remade this for NO REASON except for money.
Your Reply:



-4
10:53AM on 08/02/2012

Was it a remake or a re-imagining of the ORIGINAL short story?

The ORGINIAL short story doesn't have mars in it. So, just like the Coen Brothers TRUE GRIT, it's based on the book NOT the movie. That's what I had taken from the trailer. Put nostalgia aside and review as it's own film. Did it feel static then? Arnold's movie was outdated and not very good anyways so I'm excited to see this now as I may really like it. If it had been an exact copy THEN I would know it sucked.
The ORGINIAL short story doesn't have mars in it. So, just like the Coen Brothers TRUE GRIT, it's based on the book NOT the movie. That's what I had taken from the trailer. Put nostalgia aside and review as it's own film. Did it feel static then? Arnold's movie was outdated and not very good anyways so I'm excited to see this now as I may really like it. If it had been an exact copy THEN I would know it sucked.
Your Reply:



11:17AM on 08/02/2012
Remake - see above.
Remake - see above.
+13
10:21AM on 08/02/2012

What a bunch of BS....

"OH....... this is our re-imagining of the story, it's gonna be closer to the book than the original was"... and BOOM! They've aped the original movie 99% of the time. Hate it when producers spew that shit on us!
"OH....... this is our re-imagining of the story, it's gonna be closer to the book than the original was"... and BOOM! They've aped the original movie 99% of the time. Hate it when producers spew that shit on us!
Your Reply:



8:39AM on 08/02/2012

Huh.

Just what I thought.
Just what I thought.
Your Reply:



-10
5:06AM on 08/02/2012

I HAVE BEEN TELLING YA!

Jessica Biel /Bryan Cranston = Bad luck at the Box office. I really like both of them very much but somehow their movies have been crashing badly.
Better luck next time and hope this review is wrong cos the trailers were simply excellent!
Jessica Biel /Bryan Cranston = Bad luck at the Box office. I really like both of them very much but somehow their movies have been crashing badly.
Better luck next time and hope this review is wrong cos the trailers were simply excellent!
Your Reply:



8:03AM on 08/02/2012
That's not entirely true. Bryan Cranston is in Madagascar 3 (which I didn't care for it's it's doing well). He was also in Drive, Contagion, Little Miss Sunshine and Saving Private Ryan. As for Jessica Biel, well, I think you might be right about her!
That's not entirely true. Bryan Cranston is in Madagascar 3 (which I didn't care for it's it's doing well). He was also in Drive, Contagion, Little Miss Sunshine and Saving Private Ryan. As for Jessica Biel, well, I think you might be right about her!
4:55AM on 08/02/2012
I'm glad most of the remakes in the last 5 years or so tank. Just as long as people stay away from the box office, the message will eventually get through that no one wants these unnecessary remakes of classics.
I'm glad most of the remakes in the last 5 years or so tank. Just as long as people stay away from the box office, the message will eventually get through that no one wants these unnecessary remakes of classics.
Your Reply:



+12
4:39AM on 08/02/2012
Conan, Total Recall, what's next? what other Arnold classic will they mess with?
I'm glad this remake sucks; I'll buy it for a dollar, to quote another Verhoven original.
Conan, Total Recall, what's next? what other Arnold classic will they mess with?
I'm glad this remake sucks; I'll buy it for a dollar, to quote another Verhoven original.
Your Reply:



6:38AM on 08/02/2012
I'll buy that for a dollar is from Robocop.
I'll buy that for a dollar is from Robocop.
10:16AM on 08/02/2012
@topdollar8: Robocop is also directed by Verhoven.
@topdollar8: Robocop is also directed by Verhoven.
+14
4:02AM on 08/02/2012

How surprising

It's getting all negative reviews so far. Quite fitting for a remake that nobody asked for
It's getting all negative reviews so far. Quite fitting for a remake that nobody asked for
Your Reply:



+11
3:52AM on 08/02/2012
You know what old action movie that desperately needs to be rebooted? Die Hard.

Just kidding. :)
You know what old action movie that desperately needs to be rebooted? Die Hard.

Just kidding. :)
Your Reply:



+16
3:35AM on 08/02/2012
I agree that the 1990 movie never needed a remake in the first place.
I agree that the 1990 movie never needed a remake in the first place.
Your Reply: